United draw FC Midtjylland in Europa League

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Manchester United will face FC Midtjylland in the Europa League Round of 32.

After being knocked out of the Champions League group stage last week, United entered Europe’s secondary club competition after finishing third in Group B.

Monday’s midday draw saw them paired with Danish side Midtjylland, with the first leg taking place on Thursday February 18 at the MCH Arena in Scandinavia.

The return fixture at Old Trafford will take place seven days later on Thursday 25 February.

If United are to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup, then such fixture will sandwich these two tussles against Midtjylland, with Arsenal at home in the league following after the conclusion of the Round of 32.

A trip to the northeast to face Sunderland precedes the first leg, in a competition that United should look to take seriously.

The Champions League Round of 16 draw should have been the one that United were participating in, but failing to get out of a relatively straight forward group has seen them drop into the Europa League.

Wolfsburg, PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow led to just eight points accumulated for United, but as of last season, the winners of the Europa League seals a place in the following campaign’s Champions League.

In terms of the Premier League, United should always be looking to finish in the top four positions, but as proven with a seventh place finish in 2014, nothing is guaranteed.

Also, with the unpredictability and closeness of the league this season, who is to say that Louis van Gaal’s side will finish inside the coveted top four, especially with a lack of squad depth and an endless injury list playing havoc with team selection.

The Dutchman will be relatively happy with the draw, as it meant avoiding the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Valencia, holders Sevilla, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille and Shakhtar Donetsk to name but a few.

However, Midtjylland will provide a tough test, having finished second in Group D of this year’s competition, ahead of United’s opponents in their Champions League qualifying tie against Club Brugge back in August.

They also finished ahead of Legia Warsaw, a regular in European club competition, and behind Napoli, themselves a very talented side, highlighting the good job that manager Jess Thorup did in seeing his team through.

The Danish side won their respective league last season by four points to FC Copenhagen, whom they trail by the same margin in this season’s format at the time of writing.

Unfortunately for them, they were knocked out on away goals by Cyprian side APOEL in the second qualifying round of the Champions League in late July/early August, hence their appearance in the Europa League, but they did defeat fellow English side Southampton 2-1 on aggregate in the play-off round of this competition to advance to the group stages.

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